BY DENIS HURLEY
IN HER acceptance speech as the new chairperson of the Cork County Board, Tracey Kennedy said that that there was no point being the first woman to hold the role if she was to be the only one.
One of the Killeagh woman’s aims is to get more females involved on the board and executive, while she is also hopeful that that increased presence can extend to the pitch with the Cork senior camogie and ladies’ football teams playing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
‘The camogie teams have always played there to some degree and I’ve a good relationship with the Cork Camogie Board and hope that would continue,’ she says.
‘I have also been in touch with ladies’ football at national level to see if there’s anywhere where we can schedule in games. There are lots of factors which come into that, obviously both organisations would like to play double-headers with our men’s teams because that increases exposure.
‘There are various logistical reasons why that mightn’t happen but I’d be very disappointed if we get to the end of 2018 without the teams having played some games here, though some of those circumstances would be outside of my control.’
While getting more women on the board isn’t fully in her control either, Kennedy is keen to help however she can.
‘What I don’t want is someone looking down the roll of honour in 20 years’ time and saying, “Do you remember that one? She was the woman chairperson”,’ she says.
‘I would hope that there would be names of other women who have served as officers. The one thing that would really, really please me is that, when I’m leaving office, if there was another woman in or coming into a position on the executive.
‘I’d like to think that if there are women who need encouragement or support or advice, I’d be able to give it to them but we are a democracy. People have to be willing to put their names forward, that’s not always easy for women to do.
‘I’m hoping to do an audit of the number of women officers involved, to see how many are involved on the ground and to see if we can do anything to support them.’
Did she ever think she would take on such a role?
‘No is the simple answer!’ she says.
‘When I got involved as PRO, I really just enjoyed the role. There were some very good days during that period and, when it came to the end of that term, I only one had option if I wanted to stay involved, I had to go for vice-chair.
‘If I went for that, I knew that it would probably lead to the chair so that was the decision I took because I just loved being involved. It has never been an ambition of mine to be chairperson of the county board, but it’s where the path has taken me.
‘When all of this madness is finished and my term is over in three years, I’ll be more than happy to return to working for my club again.’
Between now and then, there is a lot to do, though Kennedy isn’t making a rod for her own back with unrealistic targets.
‘I mentioned “unity” in my speech,’ she says, ‘I don’t know if it’s something I can do but I’d really like to see a more united Cork going forward.
‘I hate this “them and us” divide that exists, and the suspicion and mistrust that varying factions have. We all have the same goal, we want what’s best for Cork GAA, there’s nobody involved who wants anything different.
‘It’s important that we unite. I’m not sure yet what we can do about that, I only found out on Friday who the other executive members would be and I want to take some time to consult with them.
‘I’ll see what their priorities and views are and see how that ties in with what I want to do and with the strategic plan and other necessities that are part of the role. At the end of the three years, I want to leave Cork GAA in a strong position.’